Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has faced heavy criticism for his response to the COVID-19 crisis, appeared on Fox News on Wednesday to gloat about the fact that the impact of the virus in the Sunshine State has — thus far — been less severe than some statistical models once predicted.
But DeSantis neglected to mention the fact that Florida recorded its second-deadliest day of the crisis on Wednesday, and experts are unsure whether the state has even reached its peak — in what is only the first wave of the pandemic.
DeSantis also misstated a key statistic, saying that only 2,200 people have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Florida. According to the Florida Department of Health, the number of coronavirus hospitalizations in the state is actually more than twice that number, 4,455.
“People were predicting us to be worse than New York, like another Italy,” DeSantis told host Sean Hannity, who lavished praise on the governor throughout the segment.
“They said that this week, one of the newspapers in Florida said we would have 464,000 people hospitalized,” DeSantis added. “The actual number is 2,200. So we beat that by 462,000. But what we did very early was focus on the populations who are most at risk: Our senior citizens, and particularly our nursing homes and assisted living facilities.”
It’s not the first time DeSantis has misrepresented a key statistic about the impact of the virus. Previously, DeSantis falsely claimed that no on under 25 had died from COVID-19.
Early in the crisis, DeSantis was criticized for failing to shut down Florida before spring-breakers flooded the state’s beaches, which contributed to the spread of the virus nationwide. Three people who attended the Winter Party Festival, a large gay circuit party in Miami Beach in early March, have since died from COVID-19.
Nevertheless, DeSantis is claiming victory, touting a strategy of focusing on the state’s large population of vulnerable seniors, including at The Villages, a conservative retirement community that’s home to many supporters of President Donald Trump.
“We worked with The Villages constructively on social distancing, and here’s the thing, you don’t have to be draconian,” DeSantis said. “At the Villages, they’re playing golf just like they always do, but they’re doing it with social distancing. So, they don’t share a cart with anyone and they don’t touch the flagstick and they’ve ended up doing very well. The president tweeted congratulations to them.”
“People would play golf with social distancing, would fish, while maintaining social distancing and I think that’s healthy,” DeSantis added. “People sitting inside all day eating Cheetos and watching Netflix … that’s not great. I think we’ve respected people, I think we did it the right way and I think it’s paid off. These draconian orders I don’t think have worked throughout the country.”
Hannity concluded the segment by saying that the statistics from Florida are “amazing.”
“Great work,” Hannity told DeSantis. “Thanks for saving America’s elderly.”
Watch it below.